Arizona GOP Members Challenge Biden’s Monument Designation

( – Days after creating a new monument near the Grand Canyon, President Biden faced legal action from Arizona lawmakers Warren Petersen and Ben Toma. They argue the monument, established last summer, oversteps his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

The lawsuit claims that Biden’s decision to designate the new monument, named Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni, goes beyond the Act’s scope because it is not limited to preserving objects of historic or scientific value. They also argue that the designation does not configure the protected area to “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

The 4,046-square-kilometer monument lies north and south of the Grand Canyon National Park. The designation fulfills a long-held goal of Native American tribes and environmentalists, but it faces opposition from Republican lawmakers and the uranium mining industry in the area.

Petersen criticized Biden’s decision, saying it was “incredibly disingenuous” and had nothing to do with protecting real artifacts. He claimed that the designation is intended to stop mining, ranching, and other local uses of federal lands important for energy independence, food supply, and economic strength.

The White House and the U.S. Department of the Interior did not comment on the lawsuit. However, Mohave County and the northern Arizona communities of Colorado City and Fredonia also join the legal challenge. They are concerned about losing tax revenue and having their land value decrease because of the monument designation’s restrictions on land use.

Notably, in 2012, the Interior Department put a 20-year moratorium on new mining claims around the national park because of concerns about water contamination. No uranium mines are currently operating in Arizona, but the Pinyon Plain Mine, located just south of the Grand Canyon National Park, has been under development for years.

Interestingly, shortly after Biden’s designation, a federal judge in Utah ruled in favor of President Biden, dismissing a lawsuit that challenged his restoration of two national monuments that former President Donald Trump downsized. The judge upheld Biden’s authority to restore Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, which are both sacred lands to many Native Americans.

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